Thursday, March 30, 2017

Postcard from Egypt: the Nubian village trying to protect its ancient culture | The National

Camels beside the colourful buildings of Gharb Sohail, a Nubian village in Egypt. Courtesy Aya Nader.

Postcard from Egypt: the Nubian village trying to protect its ancient culture

Located along the Nile River, in an area between northern Sudan and southern Egypt is what is left of the ancient Kingdom of Nubia. Here you will find ancient monuments, a displaced population and fresh attempts to bring a rich culture to light.

One of the oldest and richest cultures in Africa, Nubia’s history can be traced as far back as 2,000BC. The last Nubian kingdom collapsed in the 16th century. Now, one Nubian village in Egypt – Gharb Sohail – has become a major tourist attraction and many locals have turned part of their homes into guesthouses. Big halls, a mastaba (a traditional bench built into the wall) an area for women’s gatherings that usually take place after sundown, and a tea area, represent a typical Nubian living unit. Walls are painted with scenes from everyday life or nature. One of the traditional drinks is always at the ready: red tea with basil, hibiscus tea, or strong African jabana coffee.

To reach Gharb Sohail, we travel to Aswan. From there it’s a ferry ride to the Nubian village which sits on a sandy hilltop – a colourful haven of houses painted in blue, yellow, green and red. "I just love how they open their homes for visitors, offering tea, henna and stories," says Leena El Deeb, a Cairo resident. 

Henna is an important part of Nubian culture. Prepared from the henna plant, visitors usually leave with tattoos of reddish-brown flowers and geometric shapes. In Nubia, a bride is covered from head to toe in henna art prior to her wedding. Nubians also traditionally made necklaces and bracelets from camel bones. Today, accessories, baskets, perfumes and incense fill the narrow tourist market, along with rows of colourful spices and weavers making pashminas.

"Gharb Sohail has everything, from shopping at the souq to Nubian entertainment shows; the whole package. The people there are very kind and very hospitable," says Sarah Hany, another visitor from Cairo.

Calling it "a place of inner peace", tourist Hagar Gamil enjoys being immersed in ancient tradition, be it among the people, their homes or history.

Crocodiles are also a feature of village life. Floors are covered with flattened sand, especially at entrances. This is a tradition that dates back to ancient Nubia: each morning the homeowner checks for signs of crocodiles or snakes entering the house. Crocodiles were taken in as pets, and their pheromones repelled other intruders. Up to this day, crocodiles still live in some households, albeit a minority and for tourism. On my visit, I saw one in a stone cage.

The Nubian village has attracted visitors for many years but locals believe the 2002 film Mafia, shot on Nubian lands, put the area on the map for Egyptians. Another advocate is Nubian singer "The King" Mohamed Mounir, who established a hotel there named after one of his songs Hadouta Masreya (An Egyptian Tale). 

Other figures in Egypt’s modern history hailed from Nubia, including poet and journalist, Abbas Al Akkad; former commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces Hussein Tantawi; and former president Anwar Sadat.

At sundown, Cairo resident Hamed Alazzamy says he goes to a rooftop cafe and takes in the scene. "I thought it was eye opening. To think that people could live so simply while the rest of us worry about silly things". 

But the history is not simple. In 1964, the Aswan High Dam was built, submerging villages and leaving more than 100,000 people homeless. Since then, Nubians have been calling for their right to return. Last year, a presidential decree designated a large stretch of land as a restricted military zone. The area, adjacent to the Egypt’s border with Sudan, includes 18 Nubian villages to which residents had hoped to return. Some people from other parts of the area settled in Gharb Sohail.

With today’s population of half-a-million across what is left of wider Nubia, the new generation is well aware of the lack of exposure Nubia has. Their economy depends on the winter tourist season so they have created YouTube channels such as "Nuba Tube", mobile apps and social media platforms to keep the language alive, market their products and showcase their heritage.

As Argentinian travel blogger Valentina Primo, who went three times in a year, told me, "You can find a family away from home; a place so filled with colour, nature, and a surreal sense of community that you won’t feel a stranger. It’s also a place where the Nile shows its best facade, where the sand burns under your feet, and children dance as contagiously as I’ve never seen". 

Aya Nader is a freelance journalist based in Cairo.

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Egypt unearths part of ancient boat

Egypt unearths part of ancient boat

  • Reuters

A plank of wood believed to be from the boat of an ancient Egyptian king has been unearthed near the Great Pyramid at Giza, archaeologists say.

The boat, which is the second such vessel to be found on the site, was believed to have been built for King Khufu who ruled Egypt during the fourth dynasty more than 4500 years ago.

First discovered in the 1980s, experts say they have so far uncovered 700 pieces of the boat from the site and now believe that they have unearthed most of its pieces.

"We are celebrating the extraction of the largest plank of wood," said the project's main supervisor Mamdouh Taha, adding it measures 26 metres long.

Archaeologists and conservation experts extracted the piece from a pit nearly three metres underground and moved it to a conservation centre located next to the discovery site.

Egyptian and Japanese archaeologists are working on the project with an aim to restore all the boat's pieces and display them in the Grand Egyptian Museum when it opens next year.

Egypt hopes ongoing archaeological discoveries can boost its ailing tourism industry, a critical source of hard currency which has suffered in the aftermath of mass protests that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

The number of tourists visiting Egypt stood at 9.3 million in 2015, compared to more than 14.7 million in 2010, but the country's tourism minister expressed hope earlier this month that numbers could return to levels experienced before the uprising.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Lab opens at Egypt’s pyramids to restore pharaonic boat

Lab opens at Egypt's pyramids to restore pharaonic boat

CAIRO — Egypt is inaugurating its largest on-site antiquities laboratory, to restore the second ceremonial boat of Pharaoh Cheops, known for building the largest of Egypt's iconic pyramids.

The project, funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Higashi Nippon International University, is set to complete the initial phase of repairs of the 4,500-year-old vessel by 2020.

Eissa Zeidan, head of the project's Egyptian restoration team, told The Associated Press that the lab, at the site of the Giza pyramids, was necessary for some of the boat's 1,264 pieces, which are too fragile or large to move.

The vessel and its sister boat, on display near the Great Pyramid, were discovered in 1954 and are believed to have been buried with the pharaoh to carry him into the afterlife.

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ARCE-NC Invites you to attend "The Mysteries of Nefertiti" April 30

Text Version: 

The American Research Center in Egypt, Northern California Chapter
Invites you to attend A lecture by the distinguished archaeologist
Aidan Dodson on

The Mysteries of Nefertiti
Sunday, April 30, 3 pm
Barrows Hall, Room 20
UC Berkeley Campus

(Near the intersection of Bancroft Way and Barrow Lane)

Aidan Dodson is the Senior Research Fellow, University of Bristol.
England. In addition to teaching and field work, he is the author of
many books on Egypt, including The Royal Tombs of Ancient Egypt,
Amarna Sunrise, Amarna Sunset and Poisoned Legacy: The Fall of
the Nineteenth Egyptian Dynasty

Parking is available in U.C. lots after 5 p.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends for a fee. Ticket dispensing machines accept either $5 bills or $1 bills, and credit cards. Parking is available in Parking Structure B on Bancroft between Hearst Gym and Kroeber Hall and just across the street from the University Art Museum. Parking is also available under the shops on Bancroft opposite Barrows Hall. There is a parking structure under the Student Union further west on Bancroft.

A map of the campus is available online at

For more information, go to


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Egypt: 'The Lion Is Back in His Den' -

Egypt: 'The Lion Is Back in His Den'

Hosni Mubarak, the first leader to face trial after the Arab Spring uprisings that swept through North Africa is a free man after spending six years in detention. Legalbrief reports that the extraordinary development marks the end of a futile campaign to find him accountable for numerous human rights abuses during his term in office.

His long-time lawyer, Farid el-Deeb, who has guided him through a tangled cluster of prosecutions since 2011, confirmed his release. Mubarak, who had been held at a Cairo military hospital for most of his incarceration, is recuperating at his Heliopolis home.

Earlier this month, the 88-year-old was acquitted by Egypt's highest appeals court in the final verdict in a long-running case that originally resulted in him being sentenced to life in prison in 2012 over the deaths of 239 people in Arab Spring protests against his rule. The Guardian reports that a separate corruption charge was overturned in January 2015.

For those who worked to topple the former dictator, Mubarak's freedom marks a grim moment in Egypt's modern history. Yet some reacted with little more than resignation as his release became imminent, numbed by the years of political turmoil since his fall.

Mubarak's democratically elected successor, Mohamed Morsi, was overthrown in a popularly backed military coup in 2013. The report notes that many see echoes of Mubarak's style of leadership in Egypt's current leader, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

'The Mubarak acquittal is of significant symbolic value in that it reflects an absolute failure of Egyptian judicial and legal institutions to hold a single official accountable for the killing of almost 900 protesters during the January 25 revolution. It is indicative of a deeper, compounded crisis of transitional justice,' said Mai el Sedany, a legal expert with the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.

In a telling reflection of government's concern, Mubarak was released under conditions of secrecy and on the quietest day of the week in Egypt. The Boston Globe reports that state media said little about it.

Even the loyalists who frequently cheered Mubarak from the hospital gates through the years were not told beforehand of his pending release, although they were no less jubilant afterwards.

'The lion is back in his den,' said Rehab Abdel Halim, a paratrooper who befriended Mubarak after he gave her a service award in 2009. 'We feel so vindicated. Now nobody can call him ruthless or corrupt any more. If he had done something wrong, the courts would not have cleared him.'

Although Mubarak faced a wide range of charges, he was eventually convicted on a single relatively minor corruption charge. The report notes that Mubarak's legal woes are not entirely over. On Thursday, a Cairo court created the basis for prosecutors to reopen a corruption probe into gifts that Mubarak received from a state-owned newspaper while in power.

On 24 January, 2011, there were two constants in Egypt: the flow of the Nile and that Mubarak would die in office. After all, CNN reports that the 30-year rule of the country's 'Modern Pharaoh' appeared to be secure, shored up by the feared State Security.

However, Egypt wasn't immune to regional events and the momentum leading up to the country's uprising started in Tunisia. Mubarak initially responded with violence. Hundreds of citizens around the country died in clashes with police.

When that didn't work, the President tried concessions. Mubarak delegated powers to a vice-president, Omar Suleiman, and vowed not to run for re-election. Mubarak fled to his seaside home in Sharm El Sheikh. Authorities finally apprehended him after increasing public pressure.

Egyptians were glued to their television sets when his trial began.

Two-thirds of Egyptians never knew another President. For many, he was a father figure. Mubarak appeared in a hospital bed wearing white prison garb, sunglasses, and a scowl. The once strongman looked frail and bitter.

The local press called the next 10 months the 'Trial of the Century'. In the cacophony of the courtroom, the judge called the former President an 'accessory to murder' and sentenced him to life in prison. The report notes that jubilation erupted outside the court and on the streets of Cairo.

However, it wouldn't last long. Egypt wouldn't escape political and economic turmoil and the first democratically elected President would be deposed in a popular military coup.

A report on the EWN site notes that many Egyptians who lived through his presidency view it as a period of stagnation, autocracy and crony capitalism.

'The economic crisis we are living in and the high prices take priority over everything, as does the fear of terrorism. That is what preoccupies ordinary citizens, not Mubarak,' said Khaled Dawoud, an opposition politician who opposed the Islamists but also condemned the bloody crackdown on them.

'When you see the group of people who show up and cheer and support him, you are talking about 150, 200 people,' he said, referring to occasional shows of support outside the Maadi hospital when Mubarak was there.

The report notes that in the turmoil of the Arab uprisings, Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali fled into exile in Saudi Arabia, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi met an ignominious death at the hands of rebels and Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh resigned. However, early hopes of democratic change in the region have eroded, the report states.

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Monday, March 27, 2017

AWOL - The Ancient World Online: The Oriental Institute Open Access Publications
On 03/22/2017 10:48 AM, Charles Jones wrote:
The Oriental Institute Open Access Publications
The Oriental Institute Open Access Publications
Including Both Digital Manifestations of Print Publications and Born Digital Publications 

[Originally posted April 9, 2008 on the Ancient World Bloggers Group at AWOL - The Ancient World Online - 2: The Oriental Institute Electronic Publications Initiative, the "canonical" version of the list of online publications of the OI developed there for two and a half years and moved here during Open Access Week on October 19, 2010.  It will be kept up to date in this location henceforth.  Most recently updated 22 March 2017]

Starting in 2004, the Oriental Institute committed to digitizing all of its publications and making them available online, without charge. The minimum for each volume, old and new, current and forthcoming, will be a Portable Document Format (PDF) version following current resolution standards. New publications appear online at or near the time they appear in print. Older publications will be processed as time and funding permits. Several hundred volumes are now online.

Following is an up to date listing of all open access digital products of the Oriental Institute, including fascsimilies of paper based book, databases, born-digital initiatives, and multi-media presentations.

And see also the Chronological Lists of OI Publications

Assyriological Studies (AS) | List of volumes in print
The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago (CAD) | List of volumes in print
  • Volume 1:1, A:1. 1964.
  • Volume 1:2, A:2. 1968.
  • Volume 2, B. 1965.
  • Volume 3, D. 1959.
  • Volume 4, E. 1958.
  • Volume 5, G, 1956 
  • Volume 6, H [het]. 1956.
  • Volume 7, I/J. 1960.
  • Volume 8, K. 1971.
  • Volume 9, L. 1973.
  • Volume 10:1, M:1. 1977.
  • Volume 10:2, M:2. 1977.
  • Volume 11:1, N:1. 1980.
  • Volume 11:2, N:2. 1980.
  • Volume 12, P. 2005.
  • Volume 13, Q. 1982.
  • Volume 14, R. 1999.
  • Volume 15, S. 1984.
  • Volume 16, S [tsade]. 1962.
  • Volume 17:1, S [shin]:1. 1989.
  • Volume 17:2, S [shin]:2. 1992.
  • Volume 17:3, S [shin]:3. 1992.
  • Volume 18, T. 2006.
  • Volume 19, T [Tet]. 2006.
  • Volume 20, U/W. 2010.
  • Volume 21, Z. 1961.
 Chicago House Bulletin

The Chicago Demotic Dictionary (CDD) [Born digital publication]
Completed Letters Download
Prologue Download Terms of Use
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Days Download Terms of Use
Months Download Terms of Use
Numbers Download Terms of Use
Problematic Entries Download Terms of Use
Problematic Entries 2 Download Terms of Use
The Hittite Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago (CHD) | List of volumes in print
Chicago Hittite Dictionary Supplements (CHDS) | List of volumes in print
Late Antique and Medieval Islamic Near East (LAMINE)
  • LAMINE 1. Christians and Others in the Umayyad State. Edited by Antoine Borrut and Fred M. Donner, with contributions by Touraj Daryaee, Muriel  Debié, Sidney H. Griffith, Wadad al-Qadi, Milka Levy-Rubin, Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych, Donald Whitcomb, and Luke Yarbrough, 2016
Materials for the Assyrian Dictionary (MAD)

Materials and Studies for Kassite History (MSKH)

Oriental Institute Communications (OIC) | List of volumes in print
Oriental Institute Digital Archives (OIDA) | [Online only]
Oriental Institute Museum Publications (OIMP) | List of volumes in print
Oriental Institute Nubian Expedition (OINE) | List of volumes in print
Oriental Institute Publications (OIP) | List of volumes in print
Oriental Institute Seminars (OIS) | List of volumes in print
Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization (SAOC) | List of volumes in print

Lost Egypt

Lost Egypt, Volumes I-III. A Limited Edition Portfolio Series of Photographic Images from Egypt's Past.
The Epigraphic Survey of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

Volume Pagination Date ISBN Price
Volume I pp. i-viii + 10 plates 1992 0-918986-88-5 $2000.00
Volume II pp. i-viii + 10 plates 1992 0-918986-89-3 $2000.00
Volume III pp. i-viii + 10 plates 1992 0-918986-90-7 $2000.00

Miscellaneous Publications
  •  Nimrud: The Queens' Tombs. By Muzahim Mahmoud Hussein, translation and initial editing by Mark Altaweel, additional editing and notes by McGuire Gibson. 2016
  • Islamic Bindings & Bookmaking
      A Catalogue of an Exhibition in the Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago, May 18-August 18, 1981. By Gulnar Bosch, John Carswell, and Guy Petherbridge. Originally published in 1981. 
  • Most Ancient Verse.
      Selected and translated by Thorkild Jacobsen and John A. Wilson. Originally published in 1963.
  • When Egypt Ruled the East.
      By George Steindorff and Keith C. Seele. Revised by Keith C. Seele. Originally published as second edition in 1957. 
Annual Reports
The Oriental Institute Archaeological Newsletter (1950-1973)

Oriental Institute News & Notes

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1981 Winter (#67)
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1980 Winter (#58)
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1978 Winter (#39)
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1977 Winter (#33) Spring (#34) Summer (#35) Fall (#36)
Fall (#37)
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For years prior to 1999 the Lead Article(s) from various issues of News & Notes were made available electronically:










Oriental Institute's on-line Photographic Archives (online only)

Oriental Institute Databases (online only - login as guest)
Teaching the Middle East: A Resource for Educators

The Human Adventure is online at The Oriental Institute's Youtube Channel. 

Mesopotamian Directory 2011

Also at The Oriental Institute's Youtube Channel is a  list of video presentations of Members' Lectures, and exhibition related presentations.

Research Archives

Integrated Database (IDB)

OCHRE Data Service

Individual Scholarship


And see also

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